Arrived in Queenstown late Tuesday afternoon after a long drive from Fox Glacier with a brief stopover in Wanaka – it was pouring rain when I got there. Found a reasonable accommodation on the Lake Wakatipu waterfront but didn’t realize how wonderful the view was until I woke up Wednesday morning to sunshine, a clear blue sky, and an even bluer lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains! It was incredible!
Queenstown is a resort town in Otago in the southwest part of the South Island. It’s built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu, a long thin Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes. Queenstown is absolutely gorgeous situated around the lake in a bowl encircled by mountains. The Queenstown-Lakes District has a land area of about 3,361 sq. miles not counting the inland lakes – Lake Hawea, Lake Wakatipu, and Lake Wanaka. It’s truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited.
On Wednesday morning I was on the road again headed for Te Anau. The two-hour drive follows along the shores of Lake Wakatipu. It’s difficult to keep your eyes posted on the winding road and off the brilliant sparkling blue water and surrounding mountain range – spectacular doesn’t begin to describe it. Finally after almost a week of cloudy, rainy weather Wednesday was perfect. Driving Highway 6 surrounded by those mountains (and being able to see them at last) was almost overwhelming – seeing such incredible beauty I found myself at a loss for words and appreciative to be able to enjoy such vistas. After passing Lake Wakatipu the terrain become more desert-like for a while until Te Anau which is very lush and on another beautiful lake – Manapouri.
The owners of the lodge where I am staying in Te Anau, Denise and Tony Austin, are very friendly and will help me plot out some challenging hikes for tomorrow and Milford and Doubtful Sounds after that. Denise works for the New Zealand Forestry Department. Plan to stay in Te Anau at least 3 days and hike around there and Milford Sound. I’m considering a day-long boat trip to Doubtful Sound which is remote and difficult to reach.